That was then. This is now*

Full disclosure—Her Joyful Noise has been the target of several strong criticisms over the past few weeks, comments so belligerent and personal that I made the decision not to subject my readers to them. Apparently, they stem from the fact that I have “sold out” and am using this blog space for trivial things—the minutiae of my everyday life. I am not, so the condemnations allege, doing my part for the GLBT movement.

Yep, that’s exactly what I’m doing here. Unapologetically, Her Joyful Noise is all about me and whatever catches my fancy for the week. And that’s the way it’s going to stay.

I’ve often said that I’ve never really worked a day in my life because I have always loved my career as a professional writer. But with the writing I do for pay, despite how interesting the topics may be—and they are—I am being told what to write. By clients, by creative directors, by project managers. And that’s OK, because that writing needs to serve a larger purpose. It’s not about me. It’s about the appealing to a target audience with a specific message. And I’m fine with that. But this blog is my comic relief, my cocktail after work, my hobby. Nothing more. It amuses me. If it amuses you, read it. If it doesn’t, don’t.

Much of the criticism levelled at me was because I used to be an “activist” and clearly I’ve turned my back on the “community” because I no longer write about gay and lesbian topics. Not true. I still do the occasional piece for women’s/lesbian publications—more because I’m friendly with the editor in question and they ask me nicely. But definitely not for the money, because frankly they don’t have any.  I wouldn’t ever say that I was an activist—I wrote a monthly literary column and the odd feature for the country’s national GLBT newsmagazine. I wrote cultural pieces for about 20 different literary and political magazines and newspapers. I went to the occasional protest or rally—if the weather was nice. I was in my 20s, living in the big city, fairly recently out and exploring. It was exciting. I felt like I was on the front line of what truly was then, a revolution. Thanks to my position at the magazine, I got to meet and know a lot of real activists—and some of the best minds in what actually was a community back then. Some of these women were amazing. Some were horribly disappointing once you really got to know them. Which pretty much sums up just about anyone you meet.

But that was then. This is now.

I have been accused of being a “married suburbanite” who has lost her soul. Yes, I’m married. My love and I discovered through our lawyer that it was the best way to protect each other financially so we did it. It changed nothing about our relationship other than we got really kick-ass rings out of the deal. I’m actually an “exurbanite,” since I live too far out of the city to be on municipal water and power grids. If you’re going to attack me, get your facts straight. I have a full time job, a nearly full-time business, an aging, sometimes ill mother, a rather large house and a pretty big garden to take care of. I don’t have time to worry about much else. And yes, I like the comfort, ease and security that my love’s and my hard worked has brought us—we’ve earned everything we have. No one is going to diminish that as mere materialism.

Frankly, I don’t feel like a victimized, oppressed person.  True, I am a lesbian, but I am also a wife, a daughter, an employee, a writer, a business person, an entrepreneur, an artist, a gardener, a baker. I vote, I pay my taxes, I’m active in my local neighbourhood association. And all those things that I am fight for equal time. That’s ok. Life is supposed to be busy and multifaceted and rich. I am the sum of all my parts.

I pondered long and hard whether or not it was worth wasting pixels responding to these criticisms. Was I trying too hard to justify how I live or think? But I realized that those words, aimed at me like to darts, with no other reason than to try to make me feel bad (and I repeat, “try”) relate to why I longer feel I need to fight what I consider other peoples’ battles.

The truth is—and one thing about this blog is that I will always be truthful in this space—the only source of oppression or discrimination I’ve ever felt in my life has been from other lesbians. I’ve never been “gay” enough. I never really fit in. I was too much the good girl coed. I wasn’t angry enough, I wasn’t snide and I didn’t get the inside jokes. I’ve been too trusting and not sufficiently self-protective. I have been hurt, abused, emotionally and physically, lied to, betrayed and generally hung out to dry by other lesbians. I’m not bitter about this, it’s all in the past and I have enough loving people, female and male, wonderful friends and the love of my life, who care about me enough to have washed all that away. But I’ve learned to keep a safe distance from the things that can take me down. I’ve also gained the maturity to realize that sex is only a very small part of the whole cornucopia that is genuine and lasting love. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s menopause, I don’t know. But my sexuality is only part of who I am and I refuse to let it define the whole of me.

So no, I don’t plan on waving any rainbow flags any time soon. I don’t go to Pride celebrations, it’s not necessary, I’m proud of myself for getting through every long, busy, crazy day of my life. I’m happy. I really am. And while it may sound like a self-help poster, I’ve found that the secret to that happiness really is being true to yourself and ignoring all those people who expect you to be someone else. It’s that simple.

Got to go. Breakfast is on the stove, Zoey’s got a grooming appointment, I’ve got laundry to do and groceries and a greenhouse to buy and a speech to write for a CEO—

It’s a typical Saturday, just being me.



*With apologies to S. E. Hinton and her wonderful young adult novel by the same title. 


3 Comments on “That was then. This is now*”

  1. Chris says:

    Good for you, Joy. This is YOUR space that you kindly let us snoop around. Keep on doing what you want. (For what it’s worth, I like what you write here!)

  2. Cindy says:

    Well said Joy. You are all the things you’ve noted!

  3. Stephen says:

    Wonderful piece Joy, good on you.

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